“O” is for “Orange”

“O” is for “orange” and also for “honor” and other words that begin with a silent “h”. I say “honor” is included because I intend to honor my commitment to myself and the blog community to publish daily, except Sunday, focusing on the letter of the day. Equally important, I’m honoring my commitment to myself to write something daily, published or not.

What came first, the color orange or the fruit orange? Ordinarily, I’d research that question but not today.  Today I plan to write in stream of consciousness style in “homage” (French pronunciation) to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS) challenge. On the other hand, I’ll be snubbing my nose at #SoCS because I’m writing about “O” and not about her prompt “mash.” On a third hand, though, SoC is essentially a mish-mash of thought trails, so I’m also following the prompt. I didn’t say this post would be interesting, just committed.

But I digress. Today is not the day to discover what came first, orange fruit or orange color. My guess is the color came first. So many other edibles are orange but aren’t named orange: nectarines, carrots, pumpkins, some squashes, nasturtiums. Nasturtiums are little orange flowers that add a zing to salads. Quite tasty.

Again on another hand, orangutans (NOT edible) are orange and have the color in their name. Right off the bat, I can’t think of any other orange animals. Oh…foxes! Clearly not called “orange.”

Oddly, another prompt I’ve been looking at, Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt #272, can fit into the subject of “orange.” The photo shows a carnival ride called, I think, a “whirligig.” It looks like a big canopy with colored bucket seats suspended from it. People strap themselves into the seats, and the whirligig whirls around, the acceleration giving the riders the rides of their lives. Or getting them sick. In this particular photo, the two most prominent seats are, respectively, yellow and red. Combined, yellow and red make orange. The canopy colors include mustardy yellow, red, blue, and blue-green. I imagine those colors mashing together into an orange haze if the ride spins fast enough. (Rebel that I am, I’m opting out of writing an actual three line tale.)

I can’t think of orange without thinking of an “orangy sky” at sunset or in the lyrics of The Cars’ “Bye Bye Love.”

“O” is also for “Okay,” as in “okay, I’ve had enough of this, haven’t you?” This stream of consciousness is boring me. No wonder I’ve never been able to read James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” (I stuck to stream of consciousness and didn’t research, only enough to satisfy my nerd by including citations.)

“N” is for “Nevermore”

“Nevermore” quoth the Raven in Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 poemThe Raven.” Anyone who has gone to school in the United States has read this poem at some point in their education. The word “nevermore,” in use since around 900 A.D., means what it says: Never again. Whether or not it was commonly used before “The Raven” was first published, such is the power of Poe that ever after “nevermore” has been understood as a direct or indirect allusion to “The Raven.” You don’t believe me? I did some research and discovered the surprising extent to which Poe’s poem is imprinted on our collective psyche.

The first entry on Wikipedia’s always informative “disambiguation” page refers to a Seattle, WA, heavy-metal band named “Nevermore.” Nevermore is also the title of a few novels, films, a Dr. Who “audio play,” a musical, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character. However, three other entries are, to me, the most interesting.

First, the most surprising find was that French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin in 1897 created an oil painting he named “Nevermore.” It depicts his naked Tahitian wife lying on their bed; in the background is a raven, and “Nevermore” is written in capitals at the top of the painting. At the time Gaugin painted it, he and his young wife were grieving the loss of their first child, and Gaugin was grieving the loss of his European daughter.

Second, Queen recorded a song entitled “Nevermore” written by Freddie Mercury. (The short video is included below.)

Third, a young American composer, Edward W. Hardy, created a violin solo, “Nevermore,” and starred in a 2018 short film by the same name. Hardy, in fact, wrote “Three Pieces Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe” that included “Nevermore,” “Evil Eye,” and “A Fantasy.” “Nevermore” is a beautiful, haunting violin solo that, to me, truly evokes Poe. (The five-minute film is posted below.)

So henceforth whenever you hear “nevermore,” you can, if you choose, try to avoid thinking of “The Raven” and think instead of Gaugin, Queen, and Hardy. Enjoy the vids!






“M” is for “Murphy’s Law” and “Music”

Murphy’s Law says “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” So says Merriam-Webster.  Other dictionaries contain similar definitions, but not all agree with the actual words. The Wikipedia article gives a convoluted history of similar sayings dating back to 1866. OK, so there’s no agreement on the actual words; surely, someone named Murphy originated it. The same Wikipedia article (tl;dr) doesn’t bring a “Murphy” into this history until circa 1949.

In a nutshell, Edward Murphy developed devices to measure human tolerance for g-forces during testing of rapid deceleration at what is now Edwards Air Force Base. The devices failed, and Murphy allegedly tried to deflect blame onto an assistant, claiming “if that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.” Others on the project mocked Murphy’s excuse, eventually calling it “Murphy’s Law,” using words other than Murphy’s or Webster’s. Murphy, of course, and his son on his behalf denied ever mouthing those words. Both Murphys, however, agreed that the saying did originate with Murphy’s blaming his assistant for his failure. Ironically, the words they put into Murphy’s mouth are essentially a long-winded version of “Murphy’s Law.”

For sh*ts and giggles, and if you have a lot of time for a rabbit hole, visit the Murphy’s Laws website for a plethora of Murphy’s Law trivia, mostly tongue-in-cheek. According to Wikipedia’s “disambiguation” page, Murphy’s Law has been used as the title of television series (British and American), a novel, a film, a punk band, several albums and songs, and a 2016 Disney XD series. (Whatever an XD series is, that’s one rabbit hole I’m not going down.)

My favorite Murphy’s Law is none of the above. It’s a 2020 video I stumbled across on YouTube called, you guessed it, “Murphy’s Law.” This one has an actual Murphy — Irish singer-songwriter/record producer Roisin Murphy. This Murphy has been active on the UK/Irish/European music scene in one capacity or another since 1999. Her style is electropop/disco/hip-hop/dance club/art-pop type music. It’s hard for me to describe, but if you know anything about some of the idiosyncratic performers she credits as influences — Iggy Pop, Siouxie Sioux, Grace Jones, Bjork — you can get a sense of her style. Here’s the video:







“K” is for “Knish”

You’ve never heard of a knish you say? Don’t feel bad. I never did either until I was in my late twenties and my Bronx born-and-bred Hungarian Jewish husband introduced me to them. What is it? According to Wikipedia: “A knish /kəˈnɪʃ/ is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish snack food consisting of a filling covered with dough that is typically baked or sometimes deep fried.” That mundane description doesn’t even begin to cut it.

A knish is a carb-loaded, piece-of-heaven, Jewish comfort food. It’s basically a mashed potato ball, traditionally filled with nut-flavored kasha groats or more mashed potatoes with caramelized onions. It’s either baked or fried. Nowadays knishes are also filled with meat, sauerkraut, cheese, or vegetables. Spinach knish is one of my favorites.

Yes, Wikipedia, it could be a snack food. One knish is filling enough that it could also be a meal or even a hand-warmer on cold winter days. In the early 1900s, Eastern European Jewish immigrants brought knishes to New York, where they were sold in ‘knisheries” that evolved into famous Jewish bakery/delicatessen/appetizing stores like Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, Katz’s Delicatessen, and Russ & Daughters. Also sold by street vendors, knishes are a quintessential New York City street food like black & whites (cookies), hot pretzels with mustard, or slices (pizza).

Knishes may not be particularly well-known outside of the New York metropolitan area, but we in the hinterlands (100 miles from NYC) can find pretty good knishes at some grocery stores — such as New Jersey based ShopRite — local kosher markets, and New York style delis. Speaking of which, I think it’s time for a visit to Rein’s New York Style Deli.

Classic Potato Knish

Picture copied from The Jewish Kitchen; the link will also take you to a recipe.